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SIFF makes it official: The Egyptian to reopen this fall in 10-year deal

422630_386883348007999_381692854_n-1-600x222No plot twist here. With only one bidder capable of meeting the school’s mission to maintain the space as an active movie theater, Seattle Central has inked its expected deal with SIFF as the organization begins its 40th annual festival.

CHS reported last month that SIFF stood as the lone bidder in the school’s year-long process to find a new tenant for the theater after the Landmark chain pulled the plug on its projectors last summer.

Details of the 10-year lease with Seattle Central are in a statement provided to CHS by the school, below. The deal calls for SIFF to extensively renovate the former Masonic temple including “additional seating, improving the sound and projection equipment, refurbishing existing signage, adding a new bar and concessions area, installing new carpeting and fresh paint, expanding the bathrooms and more.” The overhaul will also include what can only be a film-enhancing improvement — the addition of beer and wine to the menu.

At the opening of its 2014 festival Thursday night, SIFF announced it was also buying the Uptown Theater it has been utilizing in Lower Queen Anne. The nonprofit said it will begin a donation campaign to help fund the work on the new SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

SIFF said it expects the theater to reopen this fall. In the meantime, it is reopened for the festival this month temporarily to screen films for the first time since its 2013 shuttering.

SIFF and the Egyptian share an extended back-story. Built in 1916, the former Masonic temple was bought by SIFF founders Darryl MacDonald and Dan Ireland in 1980. The duo were the first to transform it into the Egyptian-themed theater. After running it for nearly a decade, SIFF sold the theater to Landmark in 1989. SCCC bought the building two years later, keeping Landmark as its tenant.

2014 marks the 40th year for the film festival that organizers say “is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States reaching more than 150,000 annually.”

The full announcement from Seattle Central is below.

Seattle Central’s Egyptian Theatre becomes permanent home for SIFF
Lease agreement brings independent film to iconic theater year-round

The iconic Egyptian Theatre will become a year-round venue for independent film now that Seattle Central College and the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) have reached an agreement on a long-term lease. The revenue generated from the lease will directly support the college’s instructional programs and student support services. Located at 801 E. Pine St. in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Egyptian was originally constructed in 1915 as the Masonic Temple and has been a part of Seattle Central’s campus since 1992.

“It’s important for Seattle Central to maintain the cultural value of the Egyptian Theatre for the benefit of the residents of Capitol Hill and the city of Seattle. We look forward to being a partner with SIFF for many years to come,” said Paul Killpatrick, Ph.D., president of Seattle Central.

“Seattle Central College has been a great landlord of the Egyptian Theatre since they purchased the Masonic Temple. We are excited to work with the college to revive one of Seattle’s beloved and historic cinema icons,” said Carl Spence, SIFF’s artistic director.

In June of 2013, Landmark Theatres, a nationwide chain that exhibits independent films, declined to enter into a new lease after operating the Egyptian since the late eighties. The college opened a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) last year to identify a replacement tenant for the nearly 100-year old theater. The RFP called for the winning organization to allow SIFF to continue using the 600-seat venue to screen films.

 SIFF, which is kicking off its 2014 festival this week, has been using the Egyptian as a venue for its annual film festival since 1980, when it converted the building into an Egyptian-themed cinema. This long history makes SIFF a natural fit to assume year-round operations. The initial lease term is for 10 years and may be extended in five-year increments. Monthly rent is set at $2,500 per month, with a three percent increase each year, and SIFF is also responsible for all utilities and a leasehold excise tax.

As part of the agreement, SIFF has committed to extensive renovations and improvements to the theater. These include adding additional seating, improving the sound and projection equipment, refurbishing existing signage, adding a new bar and concessions area, installing new carpeting and fresh paint, expanding the bathrooms and more.

“This is a win-win situation,” said Jeff Keever, director of auxiliary services for the college. “SIFF gets to stay in a historic, centrally-located venue, the public will be able to see world-class films year-round, and the college will receive funds that benefit students.”


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13 thoughts on “SIFF makes it official: The Egyptian to reopen this fall in 10-year deal

  1. Sweet! This is such great news to see the Egyptian stay alive as a theater and bring SIFF to the Hill year round. Huzzzah!

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